MKV vs MP4 | What’s the Difference and Which is Better?

When you download video files, the files will frequently have the .mkv or.mp4 extension, depending on the source. In fact, Two of the most common video file types are MP4 and MKV. Is it because they’re so talented that they’re able to dominate the video world? 

The quality is about the same in both video and audio. The key distinction between MKV and MP4 is the container format. Is it preferable to use MP4 or MKV? There are several ways to use videos; it depends on your usage and the program you use them with.

Getting Started: Understanding Codecs and Container format

When talking about videos, a container format is a sort of file format that may hold a variety of different forms of data that has been compressed using a common codec. Container formats are basically wrappers in that they do not describe which codecs should be used by the container format, but rather outline how video, audio, and other data should be stored within the container format itself. Both MKV and MP4 are container formats.

Talking about codecs, in a word, it is what and how your files are compressed. What exactly is it, and why is it significant? There are two types of compression: lossless compression and lossy compression. The quality is usually undetectable by the human eye, but in rare circumstances, it can cause images to seem grainy, sounds to sound flat and muffled, and movies to be difficult to play.

Container Formats

For video compressing, a codec is a piece of software that compresses video so that it may be saved and played back more efficiently. The most widely used codec is H.264, which is frequently used for high-definition digital video and for streaming over the internet. Another factor to consider is the bit rate, which refers to the quantity of data that is saved for each second of video or audio that is broadcast. The greater the bit rate, the less compression is used, resulting in a higher overall quality of the video. Keep in mind, however, that the greater the bit rate, the larger the file size will be.

For more details, please visit Understanding codecs and containers.

What is MP4?

What exactly is MP4? MPEG-4 is the full name of the container format. MP4 is an abbreviation for MPEG-4, Part 14. Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) standards for audio and video files include this as one of its requirements. Version 1 was released in 2001, while Version 2 was released in 2003.

The fact that this format incorporates both audio and video makes it the most suitable for audio-visual coding. The audio and visual quality of these movies is not compromised as a result of compression, allowing the user to continue to watch and enjoy their favorite films with pleasure.


Audio and still photos are among the media types supported by the container in addition to video. MP4 audio can be encoded in a variety of ways, including AAC.

DRM may be included in MP4 files (digital rights management). This basically entails encrypting the information contained therein. Because no one DRM mechanism is utilized everywhere, it will be essential to release numerous versions in order to reach the broadest possible audience. Converting DRM-protected video might be difficult or impossible depending on the circumstances.

Those interested in the MP4 specs may find them here. Despite the fact that some parts are covered by software patents, no one is presently charging license fees for them. It is possible that a licensing fee will be charged for the distribution of software for H.264 and H.265 encoding and decoding.

MP4 Advantages

  • The MP4 format has several advantages, such as making it easier to use and distribute across various systems.
  • Compression and lower file sizes make it perfect for video streaming or compressing high-quality audio-video files.
  • An MP4 file can contain information, including subtitles, pictures based on JPEG standard or PNG format, and PDF.
  • Support for metadata implies that the file may be combined with 3D visuals, menus, and other user interaction elements.
  • Several open-source players, such as VLC Media Player, have full compatibility for this format. Linux uses it, too.
  • It is versatile, too. An audio-only file has the suffix m4a, whereas a MPEG-4 visual bitstream has the extension m4v.

What is MKV?

MKV files, on the other hand, are multimedia container formats. Even if the parts of the file utilize various methods of encoding, an MKV container may combine audio, video, and subtitles into a single file. If you have an MKV file with H.264 video and anything like MP3 or AAC for audio, for example, you might have a problem.

MKV container files were created with the goal of remaining future-proof, which means that they will not become obsolete.

The MKV container itself supports virtually any music and video format, making the format extremely adaptable and simple to use.

MKV Advantages

  • It is completely free; no licensing payments are required.
  • It is extremely versatile in that it may contain nearly any video or audio coding style and that it supports all major video and audio formats; it also has more features than the majority of other file types.
  • Optional lossy or lossless compression
  • It has the ability to store an endless amount of video, audio, still images, and subtitle tracks, as well as other arbitrary files such as XML documents.
  • It is possible to add metadata without having to rewrite the entire file.

MKV vs. MP4: The Key Feature Comparison

As a starting point, it’s important to realize that MP4 and MKV are both container formats. The majority of multimedia formats include two distinct features. The container format is responsible for defining the file’s structure. It comprises one or more streams, as well as instructions on how to play them all. The file can additionally include metadata, such as the title, the copyright holder, and the date of production.

A codec is a piece of software that defines how video data is encoded. It would take enormous amounts of storage space to explicitly save each and every pixel of each and every frame of a high-definition video. Many different techniques for compressing video without noticeable deterioration have been developed by software engineers, resulting in a large number of competing codecs. The majority of container formats, including MP4 and MKV, offer a selection of codecs.

As a result, it is incorrect to inquire as to which container type provides the best video quality. Although the quality is determined by the codec rather than the container, it is possible to utilize the same codec with either container in many cases. When it comes to deciding between MKV and MP4, features, compatibility, and implementation make all the difference.

MKV vs MP4: The Compatability

MKV was created as a result of a personal determination to replace AVI and the dedication of a personal team. When it came to next-generation formats, MP4 was devoted to replacing MPG as the industry standard. As a standard, MP4 offers more interoperability with video playback devices and video editing software than any other format.

When it comes to uploading videos to YouTube, MP4 is the format of choice. That is also one of the reasons why MP4 is used more frequently by mobile devices. MP4 may be played on a wide range of portable devices, including iPads, Android phones, iPhones, and other similar devices – with no restrictions.

A third-party player for the MKV format may be available for use on a mobile device if one has been downloaded and installed.

MKV and MP4 Videos and Audios

AAC is the primary audio codec for MP4 and is encoded as H.264/MPEG4/Xvid + MP3/AAC. FLAC lossless audio is included in MKV, making it superior to any other audio format.

MP4 is capable of supporting ALAC lossless, although it is much less efficient than FLAC in terms of compression. MKV also enables subtitle modification through the use of SSA/ASS, as well as configurable audio track selection. When ripping a CD, users always choose to rip to MKV since it allows them to retain the songs selectable, which is something that MP4 cannot.

Those who are ripping CDs in order to offer material to a larger audience and allow them to watch stuff in their local language will find this feature quite beneficial.

MKV and Mp4 Quality 

However, just because MKV has a larger file size than MP4, largely due to the inclusion of audio tracks, subtitle tracks, and other features, this does not imply that the quality of MP4 is worse in any way.

Because they are both container formats, and because they may hold the same audio and video content, they are often considered to be interchangeable.

For example, both x.264 and AAC may be used to encode video and audio, and if the parameters are similar in all respects, the audio and visual quality will be completely identical. In any event, you can always find out how to convert MKV to MP4 on the internet.


There isn’t a clear winner in the battle between MP4 and MKV files. Each format is superior for some applications while being less effective for others. MP4 is more widely supported for video playback in a browser, and it has less file overhead than other formats. MKV is a video format that is most commonly used for converting DVDs and Blu-Ray discs to video files.

The codec, rather than the container, is the most critical element in video quality when comparing MKV vs MP4. Because MKV supports a greater number of codecs, it provides a greater number of possibilities. You must, however, ensure that the software you’re using is compatible with a dependable codec before proceeding. In particular, if you prefer VP9, Google’s cutting-edge codec, you should choose MKV (or its WebM variant) rather than MP4 as your video format of choice.

The format of the movie you originally make may be dictated by the video-creation program you use. However, you may be able to obtain an add-on that would allow it to produce files in the format of your choice. Alternatives include converting the file after it is generated and doing video compression after it has been generated and saved. If you intend to distribute the video, having it available in a variety of formats can be beneficial.

Bonus Gift: Convert between MKV and MP4

For any reason want to convert videos to MKV or MP4, or if you want to convert between MKV and MP4 video, you may only require third-party software to complete the converting process.

UniConverter is a powerful video converter that converts videos to MKV and MP4 formats while maintaining the highest possible output quality. You may customize the video codec, audio codec, resolution, frame rate, and bitrate in this product to match your specific requirements.

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